Brackley Town 5-2 Stalybridge Celtic Sat 29 April 2017
Rampant Saints finish strong
Cheer leaders, a brass band and supporters wearing Hawaiian shirts had Brackley in carnival mood and the team responded with a hatful of goals in a stylish last day win against already relegated Stalybridge Celtic extending their unbeaten run to nine games.
Already three ahead at the break David Moyo added a fourth just after the interval heading in after fine work by Lee Ndlovu. After a one-sided first half Stalybridge were more resilient in the second and staged a mini-comeback with goals from substitute Rio Ahmandi and then Gary Gee’s 81st minute penalty.
Saints were already in party mood after Jimmy Armson’s two goals in a five minute spell midway through the first half. Armson coolly beat ‘keeper Grant Shenton making space for the shot in the penalty area for his first. On the half hour excellent work by Shane Byrne set up Armson whose header found the net via the crossbar for his second and 25th goal of the season. Lee Ndlovu poked in Brackley’s third from Adam Walker’s cross to emphasise their superiority as the visitors failed to threaten.
The biggest roar of the day came with Steve Diggin’s fine finish and Brackley’s fifth goal with the very last kick of the season. Substitute Diggin had headed narrowly wide from a Byrne cross, then fired wastefully over having cleverly created the chance before his moment arrived, slotting the ball beyond Shenton with precision and verve to bring supporters to their feet.
As other results came through it became clear that Brackley had leap-frogged above Stockport County to finish the season in 7th, just one point outside the play-off places.
“We played well today, “said Kevin Wilkin. “It was about showing good attitude. We were comfortable today and it has been a good finish to our season. We have played a lot of games but there was no lack of energy out there this afternoon, plenty of effort and quality on top. To lose out on the play-offs by a single point feels like a kick in the teeth of course. But we look ahead now. I have been busy securing some of our current players for next season and there will be further announcements soon. We want to challenge at the sharp end if we can. We have a lot we can build on.”
Brackley Town: L.Walker, Myles, Gudger, Byrne, Graham, Dean, Clifton, Armson (Lowe 64), Ndlovu (Diggin 70), Moyo (Pitt 70), A.Walker. Subs not used: Gough, Hempenstall.
Stalybridge Celtic: Shenton, Morton, Regan, Ryan (Bakare 25 (Oyibo 68)), Platt (Ahmandi 46), Chalmers, Dunbar, Gee, Bishop, Roberts, Mather. Subs not used: Pemberton, Wilkins.
Referee: Rob Ellis-Massey Assistants: Tom Reeves and Ollie Williams